Tuesday, 6 December 2022

Croatian Inventor Mate Rimac Nominated for Businessman of the Year

December the 6th, 2022 - The remarkable Croatian inventor Mate Rimac has rather unsurprisingly been nominated as businessman of the year by both Poslovni Dnevnik (Business Diary) and Vecernji list.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/VL/Tanja Ivancic writes, the expert jury nominated Croatian inventor Mate Rimac for businessman of the year this year, and even more is expected in the future from the young leader of the Rimac Group, who managed to create yet another Croatian unicorn through persistent work and dogged determination against everything thrown at him.

For now, Rimac can certainly boast of having produced an incredible hypercar – recently declared the fastest electric car in the entire world, which also holds the record for the fastest acceleration of any car. Namely, the Nevera reached an impressive speed of 412 km/h, which makes it the fastest electric production car on the face of Earth, while the record for acceleration was 8.582 seconds per quarter mile, which was set back in 2021.

The Nevera electric car is otherwise Rimac's premium product that has since entered into small-scale production. Back in June this year, the company revealed the release of the first Nevera on the roads, which was fitted with 000 plates and wasn't for sale, and then, they said, deliveries to clients from around the world began.

They also emphasised from the Rimac Group that the production of the Nevera required five years of development and testing, equal to an incomprehensible 1.6 million hours of deep research.

Along with the production of the stunning Nevera at the Jankomir plant in Zagreb, what marked this year for Croatian inventor Mate Rimac was the investment round that he closed back in March and the start of the construction of the Rimac campus in Sveta Nedelja. In June, Mate Rimac reported that the Rimac Group had successfully collected 3.78 billion kuna or 500 million euros in investment round D, which brought the market value of the Rimac Group company to over 2 billion euros in total.

The key new investors were SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and Goldman Sachs Asset Management, with participation from existing shareholders of the Rimac Group, including Porsche and Investindustrial. All of the investors now have a share in the Rimac Group, while Mate Rimac himself, the company's founder and executive director of the company, still owns the largest share of all.

"It's a total of more funds than we've ever previously raised, so it's really a huge thing for us,'' Rimac emphasised at the time, noting that they had five times more interested investors than they planned in terms of the raising of the money in this round, and as for the IPO, that is, public share offerings, they are thinking about it in a longer-term framework when the company becomes more predictable, so somewhere in the range of three to five years, according to Rimac.

This new investment is being used to continue the company's growth, increase production capacity and allow for additional employment. The capital raised will primarily be used for the further development of Rimac Technology in the field of large series production for global car manufacturers.

It should be known that Rimac Group is, namely, a holding company and consists of two companies; Bugatti Rimac, in which the Rimac Group has a majority share of 55 percent, while the other 45 percent is owned by Porsche, and Rimac Technology, which is 100 percent owned by the Rimac Group.

The company Rimac Technology is known as a technological partner of numerous global automotive manufacturers who choose it for the development and production of their high-performance battery systems, electric powertrains, electronic systems and user interface components. Mate Rimac then pointed out that the company has ambitious growth plans for the next two years, in addition to the issue of employees and the opening of new offices. They're present in four locations in Zagreb, and they also have offices in Split and Osijek, as well as elsewhere in Europe - in Germany, France and England.

The construction of the upcoming Rimac Campus in Sveta Nedelja is currently delayed, but considering the situation on the market, the deadlines set for it previously remain acceptable, and the plant should be ready in the next few months, with the administrative building and other facilities likely to be ready over the next year or so.

''It's a big investment and will be the largest industrial building in all of Croatia, spanning 100,000 square metres, and I believe that everything is progressing according to plan, and we're already planning the construction of Campus 2,'' Rimac reported back in June.

The Rimac Group employs a total of more than 1,500 people, with 500 of them working at Bugatti Rimac, 150 of them in France, while 1,000 people are employed at Rimac Technology. That's what the official figures from June of this year read. In the first half of this year, they employed 300 people, and by the end of the year they planned to employ another 700. As Mate Rimac wrote in a recent post on social media, they currently have a total of 2,000 employees.

Croatian inventor Mate Rimac otherwise started his business literally from his garage and back in 2009 he founded Rimac Automobili, continuing at this pace, doubling the number of employees, attracting strong investments, and breaking records and production despite the difficulties he faced. It's safe to say that the future should not be a problem for the talented and innovative Croatian inventor Mate Rimac.

For more, follow our business section.

Tuesday, 6 December 2022

Euro in Croatia: ATMs Shutting Down, Here is How to Get Cash

December 6, 2022 - Due to the introduction of the euro in Croatia, only 40 percent of ATMs will soon be available. About 50 were shut down on Monday, and some have already received euros.

"You must go around every ATM, update it, and then prepare it to accept euro notes. There are over 40,000 ATM cassettes in 4,000 ATMs, and we have to adjust each one individually for the new dimensions of euro banknotes, which, of course, are different dimensions from kuna banknotes", explained Tihomir Mavriček, executive director of the CNB's cash sector, for RTL / reported by Poslovni.

During December, more than 2,700 ATMs will not work - during the transition period, only those that can withdraw both old and new currency will work. "The remaining 30 percent of ATMs, or 1,300 of them, will be adapted by January 15, 2023, from when all ATMs, about 4,000 of them, will be ready and only pay out euros," adds Mavriček.

A huge job awaits security services as well.

"Yes, during any attempt to steal money from an ATM, the money will be discoloured. It will take on a greenish-blue color, depending on which manufacturer it is, and the money will be unusable," Lidija Stolica, president of the Croatian Guild of Security Guards, told RTL.

The mass shutdown will begin in about ten days. "A small number will be shut down by December 15, and from December 15, the Croatian Association of Banks (HUB) will publish an interactive map of all ATMs in Croatia that are active in real-time so that all citizens know at all times which ATM is working and where they can withdraw cash", says Ivan Hrvoje Maljković from the Croatian Association of Banks for RTL.

There is no reason to panic unless you have no money on your card because even in smaller areas, you will be able to get cash. "Special focus was on smaller areas, where there are fewer ATMs - at the HUB level, the banks have agreed on the way to adjust the network so that citizens have sufficient ATMs available in every place in Croatia at any time," adds Maljković.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 6 December 2022

Likos: Success of Croatian Electric and Hand Tools Manufacturer

December 6, 2022 - Likos is one of the most important Croatian players in the market of electric and hand tools and garden machines and tools, with more than 2,000 products of their brand in the range of more than 1,000 trading partners market.

As Poslovni writes, the Praktik brand has become an almost indispensable part of the product range, distributed in the most important construction centers and specialised stores throughout Croatia.

Likos is a family company created in the early 1990s when Ivica and Dragica Kovačević decided to replace relatively safe managerial positions with a private business, admitting that they had no strategy for what would happen to their company in 10 or 30 years.

Persistent work

"We knew we had to do something when we saw that almost all large systems had started to fall apart, so we registered a company for various activities and started with one fax machine, a desk, and an electric typewriter," recalls Ivica Kovačević.

One of the critical years in the development was 2001, when their son Nino joined the company operationally and when they moved towards more complex products and market models.

With existing and new partners from Germany, Belgium, and Italy, they started distributing electric and hand tools such as drills, grinders, screwdrivers, wrenches, etc. They did all this from a rented business and storage space. "By persistently working on the market, we expanded the sales network and achieved steady and sustainable sales growth. We built a business facility of 2500 square meters on the previously purchased plot and moved into it in 2003. We used about 1,500 square metres for storage and rented the rest as office space. The most important strategic decision in our business was building and developing our own brand. It was clear the position of distributors of foreign products would come into question in the common European market, which Croatia was preparing to enter. We have decided that, like our previous suppliers, we will go to China and organise production with the producers there designed by our employees from the selection of assortment, product design, packaging and product quality control", says Kovačević.

The project proved successful, and they have built a serious Praktik brand that includes four product groups: Electric tools, Garden machines and tools, Hand tools and accessories for electric tools, and the Water Program (pumps, water pumps, etc.)

In the last few years, they have been rapidly developing the battery-powered tool program under the Flexpower brand. Their product range is present in almost all retail stores and retail chains in Croatia that sell technical goods.

Success at the fair

Likos has a revenue of around HRK 50 million and 24 employees. Exports account for about 10 percent of the total turnover in the regional market, mainly to Slovenia, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Due to the limited possibility of growth in the small Croatian market, they decided to take a more decisive step into export.

On this track, at the end of September of this year, the company presented at one of the world's largest specialised trade fairs for electrical devices and tools, "International Hardware Fair 2022" in Cologne, Germany.

They point out that, according to the first impressions, it was successful and that more than 150 contacts for potential cooperation were made, several of which have already been realised (Montenegro, Hungary), while contacts and discussions with several new clients from Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Kosovo, Greece, Lithuania, Germany, Tunisia, Jordan, and other countries are in the process.

"In our business policy, our goal in the next three to four years is to increase exports to approximately 25 percent of the total turnover, that is, to at least two million euros.

Given that we now work partly in our own warehouse space and partly in rented space at another location, and with the aim of increasing the efficiency and expediency of deliveries, we have purchased 15,000 square meters of construction land in the industrial zone of Donja Bistra. We plan to build a new logistics center with part of an automated warehouse system based on vertical storage.

We are in the design phase of the aforementioned warehouse and plan to complete the investment in 2024," concludes this entrepreneur from Zagreb.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Business section.

Monday, 5 December 2022

Croatia Books 2022 World Cup Quarter-final Spot after Beating Japan on Penalties!

December 5, 2022 - Livakovic saves three Japan penalties for Croatia's 2022 World Cup quarter-final spot in Qatar!

The Croatia national team met Japan in the World Cup round of 16 match at Al Janoub Stadium in Qatar on Monday, December 5. Japan and Croatia have met twice before at the World Cup, but this is their first knockout encounter.

Japan has surprised many at this World Cup, topping Group E. They defeated Germany (2-1) and Spain (2-1) and lost to Costa Rica (0-1), which was enough for first place. 

Croatia opened the World Cup with a scoreless draw against Morocco, then convincingly beat Canada 4-1, and ended the group stage with a draw against Belgium (0-0). Croatia reached the round of 16 as the second-placed team in Group F with five points. Morocco won the group and will face Spain.

Lineups

Croatia: Livaković - Juranović, Lovren, Gvardiol, Barišić - Modrić, Brozović, Kovačić - Kramarić, Petković, Perišić

Japan: Gonda - Tomiyasu, Yoshida, Taniguchi - J.Ito, Endo, Morita, Nagatomo - Doan, Maeda, Kamada

Match report

It was a shaky start for Croatia, with a close encounter already in the 3rd minute. A precise cross into the penalty area found Shogo Taniguchi, and luckily finished with a Croatia goal kick. 

Croatia kept the ball in their possession, working their way up the pitch with short passes. 

Croatia's best chance was in the 8th minute - Perisic was one-on-one with the Japan keeper and tried bending his shot to hit the far post. Gonda got his hands on the ball, which went back into play. Kramaric was unable to get a shot off in the penalty area. 

Croatia was otherwise quite shaky, with two dangerous free kicks given to Japan by the 18th minute. They were also allowing Japan to get crosses into the box. 

Petkovic had an open chance in the 25th minute. Instead of finding Kramaric alone in the penalty area, he shot at the keeper. Perisic got a great ball into the box for Kramaric, who was double-teamed by the Japan defense. 

Croatia was finally pressing Japan's defense but was unable to finish. However, in the next 10 minutes, they struggled to get out of their third. 

We were lucky at this point that Japan couldn't finish, either. That is, until the 44th minute. Another dangerous Japan free-kick found made its way into the box. Petkovic left his player unmarked. He played Lovren's mark Maeda who scored for 1-0 Japan. 

Croatia had a final chance from a corner to end the half, which was 1-0. The first half ended with 59% possession for Croatia. 

The second half started without substitutions for either side. 

Daichi Kamada shot from the edge of the penalty area and over the crossbar in the 46th minute. 

Kovacic shot on goal off a Juranvic throw-in in the 48th minute. At this point, Croatia struggled to win tackles and headers. 

Croatia called for a penalty on Petkovic in the 51st, but the ref refused to consult VAR. 

Japan was awarded another corner kick in the 53rd minute. 

But then it finally happened for Croatia. A brilliant ball from Lovren found Perisic in the penalty area who perfectly headed far post into the goal for 1-1! 

Japan threatened in the next attack, forcing Livakovic to save the shot with his fingertips and out for a Japan corner. Croatia's defense struggled again in the 60th, allowing Japan to get a shot off. 

Dalic made his first sub in the 61st minute. Budimir went in for Petkovic. 

And then Modric had a stellar shot in the 62nd minute, forcing the Japan keeper to make one of the best diving saves of the tournament. 

Japan made their first subs in the 65th minute for fresh legs. Kaoru Mitoma went in for Yuto Nagatomo.

Croatia had another great chance in the 66th minute. Kramaric crossed to Budimir whose header just missed the goal.

Dalic subbed off Kramamric for Pasalic in the 67th minute. 

Japan made another sub. Hiroki Sakai (Japan) came on for Daichi Kamada.

Perisic had an incredible chance in the 77th minute. Budimir brilliantly played Perisic on the left wing, whose rocket just missed the goal. The ball went out for a corner. 

Japan had yet another free kick in the 80th minute, which Juranovic cleared. 

Croatia seemed to be waiting for a hole to open in Japan's defense. Perisic played into the box to Pasalic whose header missed the goal in the 86th minute. 

Kovacic was shown a yellow card in the 90th minute. 

The match ended 1-1 in regulation time and went to extra time, where two 15-minute halves are played. Neither team made substitutions. 

Japan had a corner in the 91st minute. And another in the 95th minute. 

Dalic made two subs in the 98th minute - Modric came out for Majer and Vlasic for Kovacic. Pasalic stayed on the right wing and Vlasic in the middle. 

Japan had their best chance of the first half in the 105th minute. A brilliant save by Livakovic saved Croatia, then the defense struggled to clear the ball. Japan was given a corner kick. The first half ended without goals. 

Dalic subbed on Livaja and Orsic for Budimir and Perisic to start the second half. The future of the Croatia national team was on the pitch for the second half. 

Japan was in Croatia's half for the first five minutes. Livaja's shot deflected off for a corner in the 111th minute. Croatia continued to attack. 

Livakovic saved another dangerous Japan attack in the 115th minute. 

Croatia had a deep throw-in in the 119th minute. The red added one minute of stoppage time. Majer almost shot on target in the final minute. The match went to penalties.

Japan was up first. 

Livakovic saved Minamino's penalty!!!

Vlasic scored Croatia's first penalty!!!

Livakovic saved Japan's second penalty too, taken by Mitoma!!!

Brozovic scored next for Croatia!!! Croatia was up by two. 

Japan scored their next penalty by Asano. 

Livaja went up next for Croatia and hit the post... 

But Livakovic saved the day again and saved Japan's next penalty!!!

Pasalic needed to score the next one for Croatia to book their spot in the quarterfinal...

And he did! 

Croatia will play the winner of Brazil and South Korea in the 2022 World Cup quarter-final on Friday! 

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.

Monday, 5 December 2022

Vukovar Best Croatian City for Education, Youth, Demography, Social Policy

December 5, 2022 - For the fifth year in a row, Hanza Media and the Gradonacelnik.hr portal selected the best cities in five categories based on detailed analysis and with two special awards, Smart City and Eco City. This year, Vukovar won the title of the best Croatian city in the categories of education, youth, demography, and social policy.

Ivan Penava, the mayor of Vukovar, attended the award ceremony in Opatija on December 1.

"According to FINA data, competent ministries, and specialised agencies, Vukovar is constantly at the top of numerous rankings in Croatia according to various parameters, from investment in education, youth and family, the number of children enrolled in kindergartens, to the total income of entrepreneurs in 2021. I consider it my duty to keep Vukovar at the top and make it the best. This award achieved in the competition of big cities is the crown of many years of dedicated work of the City Administration of the City of Vukovar and is a confirmation of the enormous progress of Vukovar," said mayor Penava.

According to research based on data from the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Croatia, data from FINA on the execution of the budget in 2021, and analysis by the portal Gradonacelnik.hr, the City of Vukovar ranked 5th in the Republic of Croatia in terms of allocations for education.

In 2020, regarding allocations for family and children, the City of Vukovar took 3rd place with 193.75 kuna allocated per capita and 9th place with 2.19% of total city budget expenditures assigned.

Recall, the gift amounts of the City of Vukovar for newborn children were increased in 2021, and the City of Vukovar was the first city in the Republic of Croatia to introduce a unique demographic measure of co-financing overhead costs for families with three or more children up to 16 years of age.

Vukovar also stands out for with some of the lowest prices of kindergartens in the Republic of Croatia, which is 490 kuna for the first child, 441 kuna for the second child, while kindergarten is free for the third and every subsequent child, and from this year, the afternoon shift is also provided in Vukovar kindergartens.

In Vukovar, in recent years, the city's kindergartens have recorded a constant and continuous increase in the number of children enrolled. According to independent research, Vukovar is the second city in Croatia regarding the number of children enrolled in kindergartens!

For years, the city of Vukovar has been providing primary school students with the necessary school materials as well as the help of teaching assistants. Through an EU project, free meals have been provided to all students at risk of poverty.

Extended stays have been introduced in 6 out of 7 primary schools (expected from the summer semester and in the remaining newly renovated school of N. Andrić), Christmas presents have been a must for all the children of Vukovar, as well as free summer holidays on the Adriatic for the most successful primary school students.

Through high school education, the City of Vukovar supports young people by fully financing city bus transport tickets, co-financing intercity bus transport tickets, and providing stipends for high school students in deficit occupations in the amount of HRK 400.

It helps students from the area of the city with scholarships of 500 to 1000 kuna, it co-finances the intercity transport of regular students in the area of two counties - Vukovar-Syrmia and Osijek-Baranja, and the best ones who finish the academic year with an average of 4.50 to 5.00 are rewarded by the city of Vukovar with 1000 kuna.

It should also be noted that the works on the renovation of the new building of the Polytechnic Lavoslav Ružička Vukovar have been completed, so Vukovar students will soon enjoy the highest standards of education. The project is part of the Intervention Plan of the City of Vukovar, and its total value is HRK 66,439,727.54.

The housing program for the necessary staff in the area of Vukovar is also being successfully implemented, so in the last three years, 59 staff apartments have been allocated using this model.

Bjelovar, Čakovec, Pazin, and Velika Gorica also competed in this category. The City of Vukovar sincerely congratulated them and all other nominated cities and award winners.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Lifestyle section.

Monday, 5 December 2022

Is Eurozone Accession Better or Worse for Croatian Retirees?

December the 5th, 2022 - Eurozone accession is set for the 1st of January, 2023, but with inflation still raging and concerns about price hikes when we switch over to the single currency reigning strong, we can't forget about Croatian retirees. Will they be better or worse off when Croatia becomes a Eurozone member state?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, as of January the 1st, 2023, the lowest pensions will increase by a mere three percent, and a new model for the payment of family pensions will be launched in the country. The director of the Pension System Administration of the Ministry of Labour, Melita Cicak, pointed out that this is an additional increase, along with the regular adjustment of pensions, as reported by HRT.

"Beneficiaries of the lowest pensions will receive a pension that is higher than what they received during their working life," Cicak said, emphasising that the lowest pension will be higher the greater the number of years of service worked. Stefica Salaj from the Union of Croatian Pensioners welcomed the increase in pensions, but said that it was still not enough for the often difficult lives of Croatian retirees struggling to make ends meet from month to month.

"All Croatian retirees, as we've been pointing out for a long time now, should have their pensions increased by 10.5 percent," she added.

The president of the Social Democrats, Davorko Vidovic, said in no uncertain terms that he believes Croatian retirees will be worse off next year.

"Their pensions and the income they get each month will be lower, those amounts are going to be smaller. With this increase, it will be slightly less bad than it could be. And that's it," said Vidovic, stating that Croatian pension expenses are lower than the EU average.

Vidovic also said that this isn't about social rights, but about something that belongs to earnings, which people have made by paying into the intergenerational solidarity system. However, HSU MP Silvano Hrelja said that "not all pensions have been earned".

''278,000 of the lowest pensions haven't been earned. These people receive one third more than they ever paid. This is the solidarity of all those who paid more, who could eventually have more, according to them, who were either simply not lucky, or didn't want to pay themselves because they had the right to choose,'' said Hrelja.

"We'd like to have a pension system like the one in Germany, not to pay contributions and take as much as we need from the budget," he also said.

The new model for paying out family pensions was also discussed, and the topic of possible new price increases for care homes was also discussed. Vidovic said that he can understand the price increases because the costs of just about everything have increased, but that the local and regional self-government units and the state must help people who are in a state of existential threat.

Cicak said that the prices will not increase in the three care homes founded by the state itself, and she called on people to contact the social welfare centre and determine whether they're entitled to help with their expenses if there is an increase in prices.

For more, make sure to check out our news section.

Monday, 5 December 2022

More Changes Coming for Croatian Recycling Process, Plastic Bags

December the 5th, 2022 - There are some new rules coming to the Croatian recycling process, as well as a new ban on some of the thinnest plastic bags still available, which are typically used to carry fruit and vegetables before unfortunately often being unceremoniously discarded.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, since this year, the use of light plastic bags has been banned across Croatia because they can't be used more than once, while very light (usually transparent) plastic bags, which we most often use when buying fruit and vegetables, have remained in use. However, due to the excessive use of these bags, which after one-time use often end up being discarded in nature or on the streets, a fee for them will also be introduced in Croatia from next year.

"The price of these bags will be determined by the merchants themselves, and the purpose is to reduce their overall use. They now have the label ''use them sparingly'' on them in an attempt made to influence consumer habits. However, now the bags will have a label on them indicating their cost, so that customers know that they need to pay for them,'' said Sanja Radovic, head of the Sector for Sustainable Waste Management of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development for HRT.

In addition to the above, a new Croatian recycling process is coming. The new regulation will change the labels printed on returnable items such as plastic bottles, which currently amounts to 50 lipa. As of next year, that price will be calculated in cents with Croatia's transition to the euro.

"The new regulation, which will enter into force next year, will then determine the actual amount for the refund in euros (cents). The second thing is that this system is being extended to include other packaging, it still only regards bottles, however, instead of the limit we had now of two decilitres equal to or greater, the lower limit will no longer exist, and the upper limit will be three litres for such packaging for drinks,'' explained Sanja Radovic when discussing the new Croatian recycling rules for 2023.

Another piece of news is that milk, which is sold in tetrapacks, will also receive a label for return compensation/recycling.

"Croatian companies, as we've seen, mostly adapt to the current situation on the market by looking for solutions. What we can see is that they tend to incorporate a greater proportion of recycled materials into their final product(s). On the market at this moment in time, we have a situation where those prices have become higher than the basic raw material,'' said Ana Falak, the director of the Chemical Industry Association from the Croatian Employers' Association (HUP).

These new bans and new Croatian recycling rules will directly affect production cuts and jobs next year.

For more, keep up with our news section.

Monday, 5 December 2022

Zagreb, a City of 4 Seasons: the Colours of Autumn Buzzg

December 5, 2022 - The Croatian capital is a city of four seasons, with the Autumn Buzzg an underrated time of the year to visit. 

One of the big differences between living on a Dalmatian island and the city of Zagreb - at least in my experience - is the number of seasons. A little like the Jadrolinija ferry timetable, life in Dalmatia seems to be just two these days - summer and winter - and largely tied to the season. Half the year open and busy, the rest of the year quiet and mostly closed. 

One of the many things I have come to love about life in Zagreb is a return to a world of four distinct seasons. The cold of winter, lit up of course by the excellent Advent in Zagreb, soon gives way to Spring, as the trees and people come out in bloom as the weather warms up. And then there is Summer, which is a season I have come to appreciate greatly in Zagreb over the last two years. The city is a lot emptier as many head to the coast, leaving a much more pleasant and less crowded city for those who remain to enjoy. 

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(Photo credit I. Vinkovic)

As summer ends, coastal holidaymakers return, and the city once more gets down to business. but there is a subtle change of mood as we head into Autumn. The city is livelier than in those summer months, the temperatures are more pleasant, and the cultural and social life is excellent. Cafes are once more brimming with those doing business, relaxing or simply people-watching. But for me, the highlight of the autumn season in Zagreb are the colours. 

Although I have travelled widely in my 53 years, I don't think I have found a more walkable or greener city anywhere than Zagreb. Its central part is very flat and one can easily walk from A to B in most cases, taking in some of the many parks, squares and tree-lined streets along the way. A green city in the summer perhaps, but a golden one in autumn, as the leaves fall from this tree-infested city to add a different layer of colour which is illuminated in the frequent sunshine.

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(Photo credit Boska i Kreso)

Zagreb's walkability is one of its most underrated attractions. From the famous Lenucci Horseshoe, a green stroll through the green squares and botanical gardens of central Zagreb, to the lakeside charms of Jarun and Bundek, and majestic parks such as Maksimir, this is a city to be explored and enjoyed on foot, stopping off regularly for a relaxing coffee or streetside portion of hot roasted chestnuts. 

Feeling a little more energetic and adventurous? The mountains are calling, and hiking to the fortress of Medvednica and Sljeme mountain brings plenty of rewards, not least the spectacular views of the city below? Not feeling like hiking both ways? Take advantage of the new cable car which connects to Sljeme from the city. 

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(Photo credit J. Duval)

For those looking to be a little more active, Zagreb is a jogging paradise, be it running along the Sava or exploring the beauty of its many parks. It is also a popular biking destination with its own biking trails, which will take the more adventurous out of the city into the hills. The excellent Around Zagreb website has a wealth of information on what can be visited around and beyond the city limits. And if you want to go truly native, head into the forests and start foraging - for this is mushroom season. Or perhaps a round of golf on Zagreb's very own 27-hole course. 

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(Photo credit Lice Grada)

One of the more unusual claims to fame that Zagreb has is that it is a capital city with officially its own wine road, albeit a small one. The grapes of the harvest are in, and young wines are available to taste as an additional bonus to local wineries - a short trip out to the fabulous wine regions of Plesivica and Sveta Ivana Zelina will provide even more enjoyment. 

For me, one of the strongest attractions of the autumn months in the city has been the concerted effort to promote this season as one of art and culture, and there have been numerous festivals which have brought the city's art and cultural offer to life. It is said that Zagreb has the most museums per square kilometre in the world, and it is certainly true that there is an outstanding selection. 

Zagreb - my home for the last 18 months, and a city which moves with the seasons. And Autumn is by far the most underrated of these. Learn more about the options of Autumn Buzzg here

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(Photo credit - Zagreb Tourist Board) 

 

Monday, 5 December 2022

A Brief History Of The Extinct Istrian-Albanian Language

December the 5th, 2022 - Ever heard of Gheg (or sometimes Geg) Albanian? It's one of the two main varieties of the Albanian language, the other being Tosk. Spoken in the Northern and Central parts of Albania, as well as in Kosovo, parts of Montenegro, Macedonia and Serbia, it over three million native speakers. What does that have to do with Istria, you may ask? Let's get to know the now extinct Istrian-Albanian language a little better.

We've looked into the three main dialects which make up modern standard Croatian as we know it today, Shtokavian, Kajkavian (and Northwestern Kajkavian) and Chakavian. We've delved into dialects and subdialects such as Ragusan (the Dubrovnik subdialect), old Dalmatian, and some very sparsely spoken languages such as Istriot, Zaratin, Istro-Romanian and Istro-Venetian. Istrian-Albanian is now unfortunately entirely extinct, and there isn't that much known about it.

First of all, I should explain that the Istrian-Albanian language ''died'' in the nineteenth century, having arrived on the Istrian peninsula with the ethnic Albanians who moved there  between the thirteenth and the seventeenth centuries. The Albanians who spoke this Northern Gheg form of Albanian were primarily settled there by Venice, which had an enormous amount of power at the time and of course then ruled over Istria, in an attempt to combat the increasing issue of depopulation of the wider area.

Of course, other ethnicities and nationalities also moved (or were moved) there by the then mighty Republic of Venice, and they also brought their various languages and dialects with them. This is part of Istria's very long and freckled history which makes it so diverse and rich. If any part of Croatia can be (and has more or less always been) considered to be multicultural, then it is the Istrian peninsula. The sheer amount of ethnicities present there is a testimony to the history of that part of the country.

The various languages and dialects spoken by the settlers of that time eventually saw the evolution of the Istrian-Albanian language, with the only known surviving text written entirely in Istrian-Albanian having been written by the Italian priest, inventor and historian Pietro Stancovich/Petar Matija Stankovic (1771-1852) in the 1830s.

Most sources claim that it was spoken in the very small settlement of Katun (close to Porec) until the nineteenth century, especially given the fact that the very name ''Katun'' draws its origins from Albanian, but there is very little known or officially recorded other than that. The reason for that could be similar to what has been observed with the Istro-Romanian language, in that many of its speakers were peasants who had little to no access to education, leading to the language simply being left to the often cruel hands of time. That said, we do know that the ''original'' version of the Istrian-Albanian languages was spoken in the wider Bar region in neighbouring Montenegro, as well as in and around Skadar in Albania. 

Little is left in the modern day in regard to the extinct Istrian-Albanian language, as preservation attempts were never really a motive for anyone, which thankfully isn't the case for languages like Istro-Romanian, with both the Croatian and the Romanian governments attempting to keep it alive.

For more on the Croatian language, as well as the many dialects and subdialects spoken across the country, make sure to keep up with our dedicated lifestyle section.

Monday, 5 December 2022

Could Croatian Companies Solve Energy Problems of Nations Like Moldova?

December the 5th, 2022 - Moldova recently spent two hours without electricity owing to the horrendous actions of the Russians in Ukraine. Could Croatian companies easily solve such issues?

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Jerko Zlatar writes, Croatia is very much focused on Ukraine's ongoing strife. We only need to look at the debate being had in the Croatian Parliament on the training of Ukrainians, the commendable attempts made by numerous sectors in this country to help with the integration of refugees, and the excellent work of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs at the Crimea Platform and political support for Ukraine. That said, the Republic of Croatia continues to employ a chronically lacking approach when it comes to proactivity with sending humanitarian aid abroad.

The current situation in Ukraine and recently in neighbouring Moldova illustrates the passivity and disorganisation of the process of sending aid, and the involvement of Croatian companies in that process turned out to be minimal and somewhat spontaneous. This has consequences for future exports.

Moldova is currently facing an energy crisis due to the fact that Gazprom has significantly reduced its gas supplies. To make matters worse, the lifeblood of Moldova's electricity supply from the EU is the 400 KV transmission line, which runs from Romania, through Ukraine and the separatist enclave of Transnistria.

Due to the overloading of the system in Odesa Oblast, as a result of Russian missile attacks on the Ukrainian electricity supply system, Moldova was left without electricity for two hours. According to Bloomberg last month, advisory and professional help was sent to by Lithuania and Poland, because the local Energocom employs only seventeen employees.

As for Croatian companies, which could quickly build a new transmission line with appropriate transformer stations, and whose institutes (including HEP) could help a lot in the procurement of electricity - there were no such moves to speak of. The agreement for the new transmission line was signed back in 2017, the value of the project stands at 270 million US dollars. It was also planned to be co-financed by the European Investment Bank with 80 million dollars.

Another example is France, which, in the wake of Russian attacks on Ukraine's energy infrastructure last week, sent 100 generators with a power of 50 and 100 KVA. In total, 500 generators have been sent to Ukraine through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

However, among the sevetneen EU member states that have sent aid to Ukraine's electric power system, Croatia isn't among them - which produces almost everything needed in this situation, such as transformers, generators and transmission lines, and whose electricity industry has experience in staying up and running during a war.

In an interview with the Ukrainian channel Freedom TV, the head of the regional military-civilian administration of the Luhansk region, Serhiy Hayday, said that the area primarily needs water purifiers and help with demining, areas in which Croatian companies also have something to offer.

Regarding demining, help from Croatian companies has already been offered, but in the Luhansk region, literally everything is lacking, from electricity to windows and building materials. Regarding private initiatives, DOK-ING has already demonstrated its innovative demining and firefighting robots to the President of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Ruslan Stefancuk, during a visit to the meeting of the Crimea Platform in Zagreb.

Above all, it is necessary to create the most effective framework for bringing together businesses and the Croatian Government, which would be able to respond in a timely manner to crisis situations across the world, and which could become one of the main promoters of Croatian exports.

The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and the Croatian Chamber of Commerce would have to be included in that body, as would other stakeholders like the Croatian Employers' Association, in order not to need to wait for EC decisions, but to react immediately and raise Croatia's reputation across the world and actively promote domestic production. 

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated news section.

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